“Those responsible will be held to account.”
The Trust’s patron, Lord Black of Brentwood, raised the question of follow-through with regards to violence against journalists with the House of Lords.
January 22, 2020.
It was stated explicitly by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State, that the UK “condemns violence against journalists” at a meeting of the House of Lords on 22 January, 2020.
RPT’s patron, Lord Black of Brentwood, asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure those responsible for violence against journalists in the Commonwealth and globally are brought to justice.
Specifically, Lord Black asked whether there will be conversations with the government of South Sudan about the death of Christopher Allen and with the government of Malta about the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
His question to the House was as follows:
Bringing to justice those responsible for violence against journalists in the Commonwealth and globally; and government discussions with the government of South Sudan about the death of Christopher Allen and with the government of Malta about the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Lord Ahmad was the first to respond saying the government remains “closely engaged with the authorities” of both Malta and South Sudan.
In August 2017, British-American journalist Christopher Allen was murdered in South Sudan, where he was embedded with a group of rebels belonging to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition.
Later that same year, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb that detonated inside her vehicle, which has since attracted widespread local and international condemnation of the attack.
“Those responsible will be held to account,” Lord Ahmad told the House.
He went on to say judicial proceedings are underway in Malta and the British government has been a support to the Caruana Galizia family whenever they can. The Trust provided the family with a grant to help cover legal fees following her death.
As for justice for Christopher Allen, Lord Ahmad said Her Majesty’s Ambassador recently met with the South Sudanese Defence Minister. Lord Ahmad added that he would be open to meeting with Allen’s family.
Allen’s case is one Baroness Northover said needs to be pursued more vigorously and inquired as to whether there would be an investigation into the FCO’s “failing” following Allen’s death, when it allegedly did not follow “correct procedures.” A grant from the Trust helped Allen’s family to repatriate the body.
Interpreters are of equal importance, according to Baroness Coussins, who inquired whether similar protection and effort on the part of the government would be extended to translators working alongside journalists. The baroness went on to recommend “a good place to start” would be to persuade the UN Security Council to pass a resolution that would protect interpreters in conflict zones.
Questions surrounding the sustainability of the UK’s recent “Defend Media Freedom” campaign were stirred by Lord Collins of Highbury, who stated “it’s not just those who have been murdered” who need support and attention, referencing the numerous journalists imprisoned every year for their work. The Committee to Protect Journalists learned approximately 250 journalists were put in jail in 2019 alone.
The discourse closed by Lord Ahmad ensuring his colleagues such conversations with the appropriate members of the government are taking place.
Full proceedings of the day can be viewed here.